Every Day is a Poem, Writing Challenge Day #1 - Intro and Be in Awe of Everything

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

Quite awhile ago, I stumbled across a podcast interview with poet Jacqueline Suskin. I was going to be interviewed on the show and wanted to listen to another interview on the site to get a feel for the style and flow. The one with poet Jacqueline Suskin looked promising. 

Suskin has many amazing credits to her resume, but the one that intrigued me most was her ten year journey with a project she calls Poem Store. She sat out in public place with her manual typewriter and created spontaneous, on-demand poems by donation for people on any subject they request. Over the course of ten years she wrote over 40,000 poems for strangers. And it was how she made her living.

What an amazing project to conceive of, and what a daring leap right into the deep end with the public eye right there judging your work.  In a previous article I spoke about the idea of action (showing up and doing something) versus motion (planning and dreaming) as the best way to hone your skills and achieve your dreams. This project is the perfection example of taking action and has courage written all over it. I don't know if I would have been brave enough. 

I decided to check out some of her published books and chose to buy one called Every Day is a Poem.  In it, writing poetry is used as a way to find clarity and relief.  Every day she offers questions and exercises to help you focus your senses. create curiosity and write your own poems.  One of the items on my 2021 Bucket List is to challenge my writing by embracing new forms.  This 10 day set of exercises focused on poetry was perfect. 

= = = = 

Day 1 - How to make a poem out of awe. 

In this chapter she talked about embracing awe for everything around us - good and bad - as a way of lifting us up.

"Wherever you stand at any moment, whatever the situation, you can drum up a large dose of awe to get you through. Awe is appreciation. Awe is curiosity. It gets you to look closer, to lead with patience and compassion, awareness and intrigue. There is no shortage of curiosity in the human spirit. We are born to ask why. We are here to make up our own answers. This is the poetry of being alive." Jacqueline Suskin in Every day is a Poem

Next we were to think of something that brings us awe and jot down our thoughts. Instantly one of my walks to a rough waterfront while on a retreat on Galiano Island came to mind.  Below are the words that sprang to mind as I thought about that experience.  
The steps leading down to the beach
Were made of wood - old and weather stained. 
A large wet and wobbly rope 
Was there for my hand to grasp, 
But offered little support.
The steps were old and worn and full of history. 
Misty rain covered them with a slippery dampness.
All my senses were turned on high.
I could smell the moisture of the forest
And of the wet wood.
My soul sank into a quiet space near my heart. 
The chaos in my mind abated. 
There was calm.
A small sandy patch of beach was tucked between 
Slick, slanting rocks and wet logs thrown ashore
Haphazardly adorned the sand.
I sat on a log and closed my eyes.
Lap. Lap. Lap. Lap. 
The rhythmic beat of the small surf against the shore 
Was like a meditative mantra.
My soul responded.
With shoes taken off, 
I let my feet sink into the cold wet sand.
My roots sank downward into the earth, 
Grounding me in the moment. 
This was a homecoming.